I've only recently discovered some of the pretty intense religious debates raging across these forums. My question is, and I know it's perhaps a difficult question to answer if you haven't spent much time in both countries, but do you think there is more religious tolerance in the UK than there is in the US? And if so, could it be that Americans are just more vocal in their criticism of religion than us overly polite Brits? Or are there other explanations? Or do I just need to go and view some UK based forums and see that it's just as fierce here...
Ethan, honestly, Americans are VERY vocal in their criticism of pretty much everything (that handy little First Amendment and all) but, more often than not, the most vocal about religion are the most religious. Many feel that America's laws should be determined in part through Biblical teaching, but our government was never actually designed that way. While founded by Theists, our government was NOT founded by Christians, and it was established in such a way as to remain secular, and removed from the practice of any one specific faith.
With issues like womens' reproductive rights and homosexual rights, Christians believe that the actions should remain illegal - this has caused the people who believe otherwise to advocate for changes in the law to decriminalize these things and make all citizens equal under the law. Christians are quite fearful that this is a way for those who believe these things should be decriminalized to 'take over' the country and 'shove their blasphemous ways' down believers' throats.
Over time, atheists in the States have been successful in removing God from any and all government activity - i.e., taking the 10 Commandments off courtroom walls, not allowing prayer in school, wanting to remove the phrase 'In God We Trust' from American currency.
What it boils down to, IMO, is that American Christians refuse to give up the idea that morality can be legislated. The major difference is that from what I know of the UK, it's not necessarily politeness, but a willingness to trust God and not get so bloody up in arms when these things come up for debate. American Christians seem to think that they are indeed the saviors of the world, and forget that our Savior is quite in control of everything - everywhere. Plus, you have Monty Python, and most of the Brits I know are willing to laugh about things that are funny. American Christians are highly offended by such things.
I think (and it's only a guess) that there are many fundamentalist christians in america which would naturally cause need for opposition. In the UK, christians don't seem to be fundamentalists by any means.
We do however have fundamentalist muslims in the UK, hence we have the EDL. Unfortunately...
Americans are far, far more religious than almost every other Western country, including the UK. There was a global survey a few years ago.
65% of Americans said religion was important in their everyday life. The average figure in other developed nations was 38%.
That fits with my observations from living in the UK and Australia. Brits and Aussies are much more tolerant of other religions, simply because most people aren't that religious themselves. We may still have a majority of Christians, but there's a big difference between wearing the label, and even going to church, and actually caring about Christianity.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/114211/Alaba … ommon.aspx
They are both more religious than us and also less tolerant. I once heard we are the most secular country in the world, but the state itself is not as secular as France. The people are though.
I think every single Western country is more tolerant.
It looks like these 3 answers cover the main points that were buzzing around my head: that in terms of comparison, it's down largely to a lack of serious christian fundamentalists in the UK, combined with a general tolerance. I think another feature of Christianity especially in the UK is that people tend to keep their beliefs to themselves a bit more. Sure, people will say that they are christian, but on the whole they are more interested in what that means to them and how they should lead their life accordingly rather than promoting their religion to others. I get the impression that Americans are much more vocal of their religion. I don't know if that's always been the case, or if it is a more recent reaction to a feeling that Christianity is under attack - a concept I've seen debated in a few other threads here.
Whenever religion was criticized in my distinctly secular family it was literally muted. People lowered their voices and moved on to the next topic, speedily.
Nobody wants to fight over these things.
More than enough dead, historically speaking.
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